Thousands of tourists head to Lancaster, Pennsylvania every year to catch a glimpse and a taste of Amish Country. But those who stick to typical tourist destinations will miss out on the numerous things to do in Lancaster, PA that have nothing to do with the Amish.
Not only are there many fun things to do in Lancaster, but there are also a surprising number of free things to do in Lancaster, PA. From museums to art galleries to events in Lancaster, locals and tourists alike can experience this historic, artistic, diverse county without even opening their wallets.
Whatever your connection to this region, consider these 45+ free things to do in Lancaster, PA:
(Don’t miss our lists of PA’s best free museums, free things to do in Harrisburg, free things to do in Philly, and free things to do in Pittsburgh.)
- Tucquan Glen Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Lancaster County. With clearly marked trails, stream-side paths, and various sights, it’s easy to see why. For more information about this free hiking experience, check out UncoveringPA’s article on Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve.
- Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market Those looking to soak in Pennsylvania Dutch Country need not look any further than Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market. This indoor market offers homemade baked goods, soft pretzels, lemonade, and canned goods, as well as locally made quilts, old-fashioned toys, and leather goods. While purchasing any of those items costs money, browsing the aisles and taking in the aromas itself is an experience. Head to the Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market website for more information.
- Demuth Museum Located in historic downtown Lancaster, Demuth Museum strives to capture the county’s character through the works of lifelong resident Charles Demuth. The museum showcases the modernist paintings of Demuth, along with rotating exhibits featuring his contemporaries. Find more information about Demuth Museum as you plan your visit.
- Covered Bridges With over 29 covered bridges in the county, driving through the region in pursuit of the bridges is fun way to explore and a good option for those trying to figure out what to do in Lancaster, PA. UncoveringPA has written articles about Lancaster County’s southwestern, northwestern, and northeastern covered bridges.
- Fridays Fridays in Lancaster County are a big deal. Downtown Lancaster claims the first and third Fridays of the month, Lititz and Elizabethtown snag the second, and Mount Joy and Columbia share the fourth. During those nights, local shops extend their hours, musicians and artists perform on the sidewalks, and the whole county seems to come out to celebrate Lancaster. If you’re looking for things to do in Lancaster, PA this weekend, check the calendar and hit one of these festive Friday events.
- That Fish Place That Pet Place While That Fish Place That Pet Place is an actual pet store, thousands of visitors head to the retail space every year just to explore. With fish, reptiles, birds, and even a stingray touch tank, this destination is one of the free things to do in Lancaster, PA that has nothing to do with Amish. Check out That Fish Place That Pet Place’s website for special events and store information.
- Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve While this is a great outdoor spot to visit throughout the year, the Shenks Ferry Wildflower Preserve really comes to life during the spring wildflower bloom. With more than 100 varieties of wildflowers, this 90-acre preserve continuously blooms from March through June.
- Stoudtburg Village Get a taste of Europe in Lancaster County at the Stoudtburg Village. This residential village was inspired by the German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The village and its residents encourage visitors to walk among the quaint homes, while offering a glimpse at shopping in Lancaster, PA with unique gift shops, antiques, and a café. Stoudtburg Village’s Facebook page contains the most updated visitor information.
- Pinnacle Overlook Looking for a beautiful view of Lancaster County and not up for a strenuous hike? Look no further than the Pinnacle Overlook. With a parking lot mere feet from the overlook of the Susquehanna River and hiking options all around it, this destination is a nice getaway from all the things to do in and near Lancaster, PA.
- Lancaster Central Market Not only one of the best things to do in Lancaster City, Uncovering PA named Central Market the number one destination in all of Lancaster County. The beloved farmer’s market, a favorite for locals and tourists alike, is over 120 years old and features everything from local produce to Amish baked goods to authentic ethnic options. Head into town on a market day to smell the spices, drool over the donuts, and maybe even get a taste of Lancaster County.
- Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home Travel back in time at the well-preserved Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home. The water-powered grain mill and adjacent miller’s house offer a glimpse into the early 20th century. Learn more about Mascot Roller Mills and Ressler Family Home before you head to this historic and free thing to do in Lancaster, PA.
- Northwest Lancaster County River Trail Grab a bike or a pair of walking shoes and hit the 14-mile Northwest Lancaster County River Trail. From Columbia to Conoy Township, enjoy the Susquehanna River and the river towns along the way. For active visitors, the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail is one of several natural activities in Lancaster, PA.
- Mud sales If your trip to Lancaster coincides with mud sale season, don’t miss out on this cultural experience. A slew of items, large and small, go up for auction. Lancaster County staples keep bidders’ stomachs satisfied, and the proceeds support local volunteer fire companies. Check out UncoveringPA’s coverage of Lancaster County mud sales to prepare for your visit.
- Old Candle Barn After 30 years, the Old Candle Barn in Intercourse, PA still hand pours and hand dips their candles. The barn-styled gift shop features hundreds of candle scents and styles. Self-guided tours of the candle factory are free and open to the public whenever the candle making process is taking place. Find more information about the gift shop and factory at the Old Candle Barn’s website.
- Susquehannock State Park With multiple overlooks and a variety of recreation options, Susquehannock State Park makes the most of its 224 acres. Go hiking, horseback riding, camping, wildlife watching, and picnicking to soak in the natural beauty of Lancaster County. The following link contains maps, history, and other information about Susquehannock State Park.
- Gallery Row Of all the free things to do in Lancaster, PA, one of the most classy options is browsing the art galleries located on what’s known as “Gallery Row” in downtown Lancaster. City Folk Gallery, Christiane David Gallery, Artisans Gallery, Freiman Stoltzfus Gallery, Liz Hess Gallery, Mio Studio, and Red Raven Art Company line up along Prince Street with diverse exhibits that capture the artistry in the county’s urban center. I particularly recommend visiting Gallery Row on a First Friday, as the additions of music, food, and drinks make it one of the more romantic things to do in Lancaster, PA. Click the link to see some of our favorite Lancaster art Galleries.
- Green Dragon Farmers Market and Auction Head to Ephrata, PA for an eclectic mix of local foods and other authentic goods at Green Dragon Farmers Market and Auction. Indoor and outdoor shopping, including seven market buildings, is available year round at this massive shopping center. Check out the Green Dragon Farmers Market and Auction website for more details.
- Kelly’s Run The Kelly’s Run hiking trails are not for the faint of heart. If you head to Holtwood for a natural taste of Lancaster, PA, prepare for uphill stretches. But if you’re up for breaking a sweat, this destination will take your breath away in more ways than one. The Lancaster County Conservancy offers maps, GPS coordinates, and more about Kelly’s Run.
- White Cliffs of Conoy Hike to the White Cliffs of Conoy, a unique outdoor destination along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County. Visitors can get a great view of the river from these cliffs, which were dyed white by lime runoff from a nearby quarry. Find out more about visiting in our full article about the site.
- Lancaster County Convention Center Don’t let the Lancaster County Convention Center’s modern appearance fool you. This complex, which includes Lancaster Marriott Hotel, pays homage to Lancaster’s history with a preserved store facade and water cistern visible inside. Walk through the lobby to view these historical features, and you just might catch a public convention, competition, or other events. For more information on this complex, head to the Lancaster County Convention Center website.
- Columbia Historic Market House Columbia’s Historic Market House is one of the smaller markets in Lancaster County, but it is no less brimming with history. Since its construction in 1869, the market has housed both vendors and jail cells. Meet the current vendors and celebrate the past at Columbia Historic Market House.
- President James Buchanan’s Grave Visit the final resting place of America’s 15th president, James Buchanan. His grave is located within Woodward Hill Cemetery in the southern part of downtown Lancaster. Find out more about visiting his grave in our article about his home, Wheatland.
- Intercourse Pretzel Factory Intercourse Pretzel Factory is one of few companies to still hand twist their hard pretzels. Get a quick tour of their factory and a chance to twist a pretzel of your own. Plan your tour at Intercourse Pretzel Factory. *Please note the factory has closed but will be left here for posterity.
- Long’s Park The intersection of Harrisburg Pike and Route 30 is the unassuming home of Long’s Park. The city park’s 80 acres contain a petting zoo, duck-filled pond, fitness trail, sand volleyball, and one of the best playgrounds Lancaster County has to offer. For more information about the park and its events, go to the Longs Park Amphitheater Foundation.
- Silver Mine Park Silver Mine Park is home to the only historic silver mine in Pennsylvania. Hikes here offer the chance to learn about this fascinating history and to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Find out more in our article on Silver Mine Park.
- Seiverling Museum, Car and Pedal Car Museum Richard Seiverling’s desire to share his collection with others keeps the Seiverling Museum’s Car and Pedal Car Museum free to the public. The displays include pedal cars from around the world and several restored antique cars. Check the Seiverling Museum website to plan your visit.
- Kitchen Kettle Village From insect displays and stuffed animals to olive oils and art galleries, walking through the shops of the Kitchen Kettle Village is a fun thing to do in Lancaster for kids and adults. Over 40 shops showcase the traditions and strengths of the county. Shopping, dining, and lodging is all available at the Kitchen Kettle Village.
- Columbia Crossing River Trails Center The Columbia Crossing River Trails Center is a great starting point for a variety of recreational activities along the Susquehanna River. The center itself provides maps, guides, brochures, and exhibits. A 2016 renovation to this southern gateway to land and water trails has made this region even more accessible to the public. Susquehanna Heritage offers more information about the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center.
- Lititz Moravian Museum and Archive With a history stretching back to the 1700s, the Lititz Moravian Museum and Archive contains much to learn and explore. The Lititz Moravian Congregation continues as a functioning church and manages all visits to the site. Head to the church’s website for more information on the Lititz Moravian Museum and Archive.
- Fishing Creek Grab your hiking stick, mountain bike, or trusty horse when you head to the trails at Fishing Creek. The peaceful and fairly flat trails allow for a variety of activities on a round trip of about two miles. Fording the creek, a direct tributary to the Susquehanna River, at three points along the trail is one of the highlights and unique aspects of a visit to Fishing Creek.
- Brewery Tours at Lancaster Brewing Company Every Saturday at 3pm, Lancaster Brewing Company offers free brewery tours at their location on North Plum Street. Come see how LBC brews their delicious beers at their state-of-the-art facility. For more information, visit the brewery’s website.
- Friendship Heart Gallery The Friendship Heart Gallery features the talents of artists with intellectual disabilities. Located on the street parallel to Gallery Row, this unique gallery changes exhibits every month with the opening receptions taking place on First Friday. Learn more about this missional gallery at Friendship Heart Gallery.
- Chickies Rock Between the boroughs of Columbia and Marietta lies the county’s second largest regional park: Chickies Rock County Park. The park’s biggest claim to fame is its namesake, Chickies Rock which offers impressive views of the Susquehanna River and northwestern Lancaster County. With the overlook only a short walk away, this could be a good option if you’re headed to Lancaster with kids. Find out more in our article about Chickies Rock.
- Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley Museum The museum maintained by the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley reveals the pride of this region for its history. The museum, housed in a Victorian-style mansion, contains authentic exhibits from the early 1800s to present. For information on the museum and its currently featured exhibit, go to the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley.
- Haldeman Mansion While one of several sites preserving the history of Lancaster County, the Haldeman Mansion offers a unique look into the history of Native Americans in Pennsylvania. The preservation society that manages the site is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the building and grounds to encourage history, education, and community use. Plan your trip to the Haldeman Mansion with information from the Haldeman Mansion Preservation Society.
- Lancaster Galleries Lancaster Gallery welcomes visitors to their fine art space to celebrate the skills of local artists and share them with the community. Enjoy the exhibitions for a classic or romantic thing to do in Lancaster City. Check the Lancaster Galleries website for information on previous, current, and upcoming exhibits.
- Disc golf at Buchmiller Park Sure, Buchmiller Park contains tennis courts, a playground, and pavilions. But the full 18-hole disc golf course is unique for Lancaster County, and it’s completely free. Just bring your own frisbee, and check out the D.F. Buchmiller County Park website for more information.
- Gardens at Conestoga House The grounds of the Lancaster elite are now available to the public at the Conestoga House and Gardens. The media mogul Steinman family’s early 20th century home was restored with beautiful gardens, a pool complex, lime kiln, water garden, and more. While the interior of the house is unavailable to the public, the extensive gardens can be toured and taken advantage of as one of the most beautiful free things to do in Lancaster, PA. The Conestoga House website offers more information about the house, the Steinman family, and their history.
- Enola Low Grade Rail Trail Running 28 miles from Christiana to the Susquehanna River near Safe Harbor, the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail is one of the best trails for bicyclists in Lancaster County. It gives walkers and bikers the chance to explore some of Lancaster County’s best scenery while following this lengthy trail. Find out more about the trail here.
- River Park River Park sits along the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River in the historic river town of Columbia. Pack a lunch, some yard games, or a blanket as you look over the river and the picturesque Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge.
- The Lil’ Country Store and Miniature Horse Farm Located just outside of Strasburg, the Lil’ County Store and Miniature Horse Farm combines Lancaster County shopping with a fun animal adventure. There’s no charge to visit their barn and see the 10 stalls that are home to their miniature horses. Rides are also available to children for a fee.
- Long’s Park Summer Music Series On any given summer Sunday night, all of Lancaster seems to gather in the county’s backyard, Long’s Park, for the Summer Music Series. The free outdoor venue allows guests to stretch out a blanket, play yard games, converse with friends, and eat from food trucks all while musicians from various genres jam in the background. If you’re looking for things to do in Lancaster, PA on a Sunday check out the Long’s Park Summer Music Series schedule.
- Downtown Lititz Previously named America’s coolest small town in 2013, the urban center of Lititz lives up to its distinction. From free parking at the peaceful Lititz Springs Park to the many stores that welcome browsing, there is no shortage of things to do in Lititz, PA. One of my personal favorite things to do in Lititz is to take a flavor journey through town by taste-testing olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and smelling teas, coffees, and candles.
Looking for more things to do in Lancaster, PA? Check out our Lancaster County archives. Looking for more free things to do in Pennsylvania? Check out our list of free things to do in Pittsburgh, our list of free things to do in Philly, and our list of free things to do in Harrisburg.
1 thought on “The Ultimate List of Free Things to do in Lancaster, PA”
It is well done. Did you find any places in Elizabethtown? Check with Nancy Landis for Winters Heritage House and the Historical Society for their one room school house. The chamber of Commerce may be a help.